Presbyterian Church of England Foreign Missions Committee: Hakka

Scope and Content

Correspondence, minutes, papers, printed materials and photographs

Administrative / Biographical History

An EP mission to the Hakka-speaking people living in the mountainous region of south-western Fujian province began in 1871 when a mission station was established at Ho-pho. The area seemed both promising and attractive and "reminded the missionaries of the Highlands of Scotland" (Band, p. 201). To the east the area was bounded by the Swatow mission and to the south and east by the Basel mission but to the north "there extended a vast region with unlimited opportunity for evangelisation (Band, p. 270). The main mission station was established at Wuking-fu [Wujing] with another, in 1902, at Sam-ho-pa in mid-Hakka. By 1911 the Hakka church had approximately 2000 members with 5 Chinese pastors and 38 preachers. Mission institutions at Wuking-fu consisted of a hospital, schools for boys and girls and a theological college. A dictionary of the Hakka dialect had been completed in 1900 by an EP missionary while the Rev Phang Vun-san, a tutor at the Theological College, translated the New Testament into romanized Hakka. In 1910 a new out-station opened at Shang-hang in the northern region.

In 1925 troops in the neighbourhood attacked the missionaries at Wuking-fu who managed to escape to Swatow. For three years the Hakka church survived without missionary support despite the presence of warring forces of nationalists and Communists. Missionaries returned in 1928 to find the Theological College closed, a grave shortage of preachers, and the suspension of hospital work while northern out-stations had fallen to Communist troops. In 1933 one of the church's leaders, Rev Tshai Yung was captured by a Communist band while Communistst generally did their best to hamper the work of the church, particularly in the north of the region. Conditions began to improve in the mid-1930s. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war Hakka found itself in "free" China and missionaries were able to continue their work throughout the war years. To those normally based at Wuking-fu were added missionaries who had relocated from Swatow. The area, while relatively peaceful, experienced some instability as well as huge rises in the cost of living and, in 1943-1944, famine conditions. Missionaries from Wuking-fu were among the last to leave China in 1951 to 1952, following the FMC's call to withdraw.

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